How many times has a meeting concluded with action items to collect more data for analysis and reporting? The likely answer is too often. Companies get bogged down with data wish lists without first setting the foundation for accurate, basic reporting. Companies can get more value from existing data by cleaning up master data, conquering basic metrics, and implementing a reporting tool.
Clean Up Master Data
Master data lays the groundwork for analysis and reporting. Companies with unreliable master data are impaired when it comes to using master data driven reports for trend analysis and decision making.
Think of the last time you moved—for how long did the previous owner’s mail continue to be delivered? Now imagine this same example with a manufacturing company who regularly sends large shipments across the globe but fails to maintain customer addresses. Inaccurate addresses mean skyrocketing shipping charges and a less desirable P&L.
Fixed asset master data is a pain point for capex-heavy organizations. Management is constantly requesting asset utilization and profitability reports, but manual manipulation and a substantial amount of estimation is required to account for unaligned and missing data. Failing to keep current logs of equipment activity makes it difficult to rely on usage metrics as a basis to plan for future capex purchasing.
Clean and reliable master data is the foundation for reporting and analysis. While cleanup efforts can be extensive, the result increases the accuracy of reporting tied to master data, providing a more accurate basis for future decision making.
Conquer Basic Metrics
Companies like to test the tried and true expression, “You can’t run before you can walk.” Spoiler alert—those who try, fail. Advanced reporting cannot be implemented without first mastering the basics.
Get rid of the list of nice-to-haves and focus on financials required for shareholder disclosure and basic metrics which provide insight into the different functional areas of the company. Basics might include metrics such as days to bill, employee turnover, customer retention, etc. While these metrics sound obvious, when Finance and Operations in oilfield services are asked how to capture days to bill, their responses differ. Operations explains days to bill is the number of days to send a customer invoice from the time the field ticket is signed by the customer. Finance argues the count does not begin until the signed field ticket is scanned and uploaded to the AR inbox, which is on average a difference of 2-4 days.
Basic and reliable metrics set the foundation for more advanced reporting. Even more important is having organizational alignment and understanding on what these basic metrics mean. Performing a reporting strategy will ensure all organizational functions are on the same page with measured data.
Invest in a Reporting Tool
Once organizations become skilled at presenting basic, manual reporting packages, a reporting tool can help streamline data management for more advanced reporting.
When a company manages master data in disparate systems, it becomes difficult to merge data sets and ensure the information presented is in real-time and accurate. Basic reporting tools can help eliminate siloed data and foster a cross-functional environment for reporting. In addition to reducing the time to manually compile information from multiple data sources and automate report distribution, reporting tools will aide in identifying business trends over time.
Clean and simple data provides the best results for organizational decision making. Stop adding to the data capture wish list and focus on cleaning up master data and getting basic metrics in place, first. Then, consider investing in a BI reporting tool for more challenging reporting.
Trenegy is a non-traditional consulting firm that helps companies align data and reporting metrics. Find out more about Trenegy’s expertise: firstname.lastname@example.org.